View the birthplace of civilization: the Middle East, site of the world's first villages, towns and cities, from the hills of Turkey to the plains of Iraq. They were crucibles of invention and innovation-turbo-charging the pace of progress.
Alastair Sooke follows in the footsteps of Rome's mad, bad and dangerous emperors in the second part of his celebration of Roman art. He dons a wetsuit to explore the underwater remains of the Emperor Claudius's pleasure palace and ventures into the cave where Tiberius held wild parties. He finds their taste in art chimes perfectly with their obsession with sex and violence. The other side of the coin was the bombastic art the Romans are best remembered for - monumental arches and columns that boast about their conquests. Trajan's Column in Rome reads like the storyboard of a modern-day propaganda film. Sooke concludes with the remarkable legacy of the Emperor Hadrian. He gave the world the magnificent Pantheon in Rome - the eternal image of his lover Antinous, the most beautiful boy in the history of art - and a villa in Tivoli where he created one of the most ambitious art collections ever created.
If David Olusoga's first film in Civilisations is about the art that followed and reflected early encounters between different cultures, his second explores the artistic reaction to imperialism in the 19th century. David shows the growing ambivalence with which artists reacted to the idea of progress, both intellectual and scientific, that underpinned the imperial mission and followed the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution.
In 1918, only a few months after the October Revolution, the first concentration camps appeared. With the aim of getting rid of political adversaries and re-educating the so-called "asocial" elements through work, the new Bolshevik regime conducted its first large-scale experiment on the Solovki archipelago, very close to the Arctic Circle. Thousands of political and common law detainees, men and women, were deported there and subjected to forced labor. With the arrival of Stalin in power, slavery in these camps became a major economic resource. However, the death of thousands of zeks ("prisoners") will not worry the regime, which sees its population as an inexhaustible source of labor...
In 1415, the Portuguese launch an era of explorations that will lead to the European discovery of the world. The competition is intense between France and the United Kingdom for the possession of North America and the West Indies for the Indian colonies, but also for Science.